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The New Outdoor Living Room: 10 Favorite Built-in Sofas for Decks and Patios

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The New Outdoor Living Room: 10 Favorite Built-in Sofas for Decks and Patios

March 30, 2021

We’re in the process of gutting our backyard. One of the design elements we’re adding is a large deck with a built-in, U-shaped sofa–a spot for the family to lounge and unwind. In addition to the great lounging benefits, a built-in design saves us from having to splurge on new outdoor furniture. Here are 10 built-in sofas that have me convinced I’m on the right path to relaxation.

Shaded Serenity

Above: A pergola provides shade above built-in seating at the pool’s edge. Photograph by Gentl & Hyers, from Garden Visit: A Design Couple’s Serene Shelter Island Retreat.

LA Luxe

Designer Shamshiri employed neutral tones on her Hollywood Hills patio, with furniture by the Los Angeles artist John Williams to complement built-in seating. For more, see Garden Visit: At Home in the Hollywood Hills with Pamela Shamshiri.
Above: Designer Shamshiri employed neutral tones on her Hollywood Hills patio, with furniture by the Los Angeles artist John Williams to complement built-in seating. For more, see Garden Visit: At Home in the Hollywood Hills with Pamela Shamshiri.

Freestanding Built-In

Above: A built-in sectional in one of the gardens featured in Gardenista: The Definitive Guide to Stylish Outdoor Spaces. Photograph by Matthew Williams.

Poured-in-Place Concrete

A poured in place concrete bench in the garden of the Glassell Boathouse in LA (available to rent on Airbnb). For more, see A Budget Renovation for a Stylish LA Guesthouse on Remodelista.
Above: A poured in place concrete bench in the garden of the Glassell Boathouse in LA (available to rent on Airbnb). For more, see A Budget Renovation for a Stylish LA Guesthouse on Remodelista.

With a Bocce Pit

https: A U-shaped built-in sofa rests below a bocce ball court in this Best Outdoor Living Space finalist in 2017’s Gardenista Considered Design Awards.

Wood and Concrete

Above: Poured-in-place concrete creates built-in seating in a California garden. Photograph by Michele Lee Willson courtesy of Arterra Landscape Architects, fromHardscaping 101: Poured-In-Place Concrete.

NYC Rooftop

Above: To create an elegantly simple roof garden in Manhattan’s East Village, Melissa Baker and Jon Handley of Pulltab Design (members of the Remodelista Architect/Designer Directory) sited seating to take advantage of panoramic views, without sacrificing privacy. Photograph by Bilyana Dimitrova. For more of this project, see A Manhattan Roof Garden with a Panoramic View.

By the Fire

Specht Harpman Architects (now Specht Architects) won a \20\13 Gardenista Design Award for a landscape created in collaboration with Gunn Landscape Architecture. See more in Best Architectural Garden Feature.
Above: Specht Harpman Architects (now Specht Architects) won a 2013 Gardenista Design Award for a landscape created in collaboration with Gunn Landscape Architecture. See more in Best Architectural Garden Feature.

Brick Built-Ins

Above: Coffee tables on wheels and lightweight chairs made by San Francisco-based The Wicker Works are a portable complement to a custom built-in sofa made of brick and fitted with custom cushions covered in Perennials outdoor fabrics. For more of this project, see Sneak Peek: Garden Design Magazine’s Aged Elegance.

Up on a Hill

Above: SF Bay Area-based Pedersen Associates managed to keep the client’s beloved agave while creating a “classic Northern California” outdoor room carved out of the hillside. For more, see Before & After: 5 Favorite Garden Rehabs.

N.B.: Planning a patio or deck project? For design tips, layouts, and the best materials, see Decks & Patios 101: A Design Guide. For more, see our Hardscape 101 design guides to Fences & Gates 101 and Pavers 101.  And browse our posts on materials:

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